Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa Claus is coming...

To the Arts District?

Tonight we attended a tree-lighting ceremony in Dallas' arts district.  It was a fun event - we got to hear some good singing; see the tree lit by a ballet dancer, a few kids and our city manager; and Ben and I shared milk and cookies to close out the night.  But the highlight (for me, anyway) was Ben's first time to meet Santa.

It was a spur of the moment decision to hop in line to meet the man in the red suit.  Branden was at work, and I was a little hesitant for this milestone moment to happen in his absence.  But the line was short, and the pics were free - so I went for it.

While we stood in line, I talked it up to Ben.  Reminded him about who Santa was, how he brought presents, showed him the other kids sitting on Santa's lap.  I did all the hyping you can really do for a kid who's not yet 2.  When it came right down to it, the moment of truth...

This was as close as he'd get to Jolly Old St. Nick.  We got up there and made our introductions (Ben mostly looked away, and I could already tell he was nervous and scared).  Santa asked if we were going to try this (handing Ben over)...I said "I don't know"...and as soon as I made a motion to set Ben in his lap, my son had a vice grip on me, was shaking his head vigorously, and saying "Nooo". 

Fortunately, Santa's feelings weren't hurt.  He invited me onto his lap, and I laughed.  Which is precisely when the pic was taken.  No matter, it's still cute, and it's still a memory.

And the best part?  Branden didn't mind a bit that we did it without him.  And we might go to another Santa on Sunday too...that was my original plan anyway.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baby's first...girlfriend?!

I heard a couple of stories today when I picked Ben up from daycare that I just had to share - and they both involve a certain cute little blonde girl with curly hair!

Sophia has been in Ben's class for a month or two now.  She's a few months younger than Ben, and an absolute doll.  I've heard mention of them being "two peas in a pod" before, but I had no idea the extent of it until today.

According to Ben's teacher, Sophia and Ben have this "thing" they do.  One will be looking out the back window at the playground, the other out the classroom door into the hallway.  They turn around, see each other - and then run towards each other full tilt and hug! 

And if that wasn't cute enough...teacher also said that when Sophia falls down, Ben gets upset if anyone else but him tries to help her up!

My baby already has his first girlfriend - and he's not even 2 yet!  I can still wait a few years before we have "the talk", right?  I mean, he has to be able to say "birds and bees" first, right?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I just had to see you

Yesterday, on the way to work, a song came on that reminded me of you.

This happens quite a bit.  Usually I smile, and think of the good times we had.

But yesterday was different.  Yesterday I felt nothing but sadness.  Yesterday I missed you so badly, I just had to see you.

But I had work to do.  So I worked.  I busied myself with small projects that didn't require much thinking...because my brain was still missing you.

I made it past lunchtime, and I just couldn't take it anymore.  So I got in the car, and I took off.

I drove for 20 minutes, headed south towards the rolling hills.  I pulled off the highway, and drove some more.  Then I saw the massive brick gates that greet me at your front door.

And that's when the tears came.

I drove slowly down the main road, until I came to Columbarium B.  I pulled over, and slowly I walked to your spot.  I sat down in front of you, and we talked.  Mostly, I cried.

How is it possible that you've been gone almost two years?

I miss you, Wayne.  I love you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

18 months!

I neglected to do a post celebrating Benjamin's latest milestone...and anyone who knows me should know how I am about milestones!  So here's a check-in on how my little one-and-a-half year old is doing.

18-month stats:
30 lbs 11.5 oz (he was up 3 oz when we took him in 4 days it's safe to say he's basically 31 lbs)
33.5 inches tall
49 cm head circumference

Those are all pretty much "big".  Height is around 90th percentile, weight is closer to 95th, and head's up there too.  It's actually good that he's proportionate, and it totally makes sense.  From all reports, his daddy was a sizable, well-built toddler, and look at him now - he's tall and muscular, built like an athlete. 

What's our little Benji up to these days?

Talking.  Talking all the time.  About a quarter of it is recognizable words.  The rest is gibberish.  He's got quite a burgeoning vocabulary (and to think, we were worried about his hearing once upon a time!).  Our favorites of his words are "shooooes" and "ouSIDE?".  His favorite lately seems to be "Eh-mo!".  He loves watching Sesame Street, and gets especially excited about seeing Elmo on-screen.

Reading.  He looooves to be read to.  He'd happily spend hours bringing you a book, sitting in your lap, letting you read to him, taking that one back for a new book - lather, rinse, repeat.  Sometimes I'll find him sitting at his bookshelf, books spread out all around him, thumbing through one after the other.  It should be no surprise that this habit of his completely warms my heart.

He's still not a runner.  He can motor on down the hall pretty quickly, but true, fast running?  Hasn't come yet.  I'm okay with that.  He's active, but not hyperactive.  He's more of the inquisitive, people-watching type.  Sometimes I'll take him down to the park and he'll just stand there, staring at all the activity around him. 

He's a lover, and a biter.  He's great at giving hugs, especially the kind that require a running start and diving into your open arms.  He loves to laugh, especially at his Daddy.  We're also working on curbing his biting behavior - which, strangely, he only lets loose on me and his friends at daycare.  Go figure.

So that's the story with Benjamin right now.  He's a wonderful, awesome, amazing little kid, and I feel so lucky to be his mama.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A couple of funny stories...

So my kid is 18 months old now...I probably should've put up some great, sentimental, 18 month post, but I didn't.  Because I was busy chasing after an 18-month-old.

I do have a couple of cute stories to share about my favorite little boy, though. 

Story #1:  The magic word

So we had chicken fajitas for dinner tonight (pretty yummy, if I do say so myself). We had a box of cookies out on the table and decided to finish them off for dessert. Ben had a piece of chicken left, and we were trying to get him to eat it before he could have his cookie.

We tried everything we could. He was near tears, shoving everything out of his way, meltdown was imminent. We were about to give up when, on a whim, I said "Benjamin, can you help Mommy? I need you to eat this piece of chicken."

A light flicked on, the heavens opened, he grabbed the chicken and popped the whole thing in his mouth. He grinned while he chewed. Branden and I stared, dumbfounded.

I never in a million years thought that would work. I just did it on a desperate whim.

Apparently, "help" is the magic word.

And then he got his cookie. :o)

Story #2: In his own time

Yesterday, I washed all of his fall clothes, which I already had hanging in his closet. This resulted in a big pile of hangers in the living room while the laundry was going. Inevitably, Ben found the pile and spread them all over, playing with them. It was fine, because he'd been fussy most of the day, and it was keeping him occupied.

So then it comes time to fold/hang up the laundry. I set the basket down by the couch, across the room from the pile of hangers. I ask Ben to bring them to me. He ignores me, because he's busy reading Railroad Toad. I ask a few more times. Nothing. I give up, thinking I'll have to get up and go get them when I'm ready for them.

All of the sudden, he puts his book down (like he was finished), stands up, picks up a couple of hangers, walks over to me, and hands them to me. It had to have been 5 minutes that had elapsed since I asked for them! And with coaxing, he proceeded to bring me every hanger over there, two at a time. It was awesome.

This kid is the coolest ever.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Last night, I went crazy with the video camera and got three really cute videos of Mr. Benjamin!  Here they are...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Seventeen months have gone by since the day I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time.  Every single day, he learns and grows and changes.  He's becoming such a fun and amazing little kid!

What has he been up to lately?
  • He's going through a "word explosion".  He went from maybe a handful of words at 15 months to now speaking at least 25 or 30 that I can count.  He's even started to put together two word phrases, like "I go" or "I do" or "I know."
  • He's started to say "Oh no!" and put his hands on his cheeks.  OMG cute!
  • He can follow commands quite well now - when he wants to.  The other day, I asked him to put his push toy away at Nana's house, not thinking he'd remember where he got it from.  To my surprise, he pushed it right over and arranged it EXACTLY how Nana had it!
  • Last night, he found his discarded spoon on the floor a few minutes after dinner - and all on his own, he picked it up, walked to the kitchen, and put it on the counter by the dirty dishes!
  • He loves bathtime, especially now that we have "bubbles" and his new toy letters!

In general, he just makes life really super enjoyable! 

Branden's still working his second job on the weekends...though we seem to have found a better family rhythm lately, now that he can sleep in on the weekends and get naps sometimes too.  We both look forward to the day when he can quit that second job...especially because that will mean he has a professional planning job!  It will happen...some day. 

In the mean time, we try to make the best of the time we do have together.  Several times, Ben and I have made the trek to Branden's second job with him and had dinner together out there.  And Branden and I are trying to make sure to take time for ourselves too.  On Sunday, we had a "family date".  The three of us went out to dinner, then came home for dessert (frozen yogurt w/blueberries - yum!).  After Ben went to bed, Branden and I snuggled on the couch and watched "The Tourist."  It was a nice way to reconnect, and without having to worry about getting a sitter or anything.  I highly recommend it!

So that's what we've been up to lately!  :o)  How about you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our new, grown-up apartment!

So I had a feeling that moving into our new place would automatically feel more like home.  What I didn't realize is how much it would light a fire under us (and our little guardian angel, my mom!) to update some of our furnishings to match the new, nicer apartment.

It started out with an entertainment center...


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(That's the photo from the Craigslist post...haven't gotten a good one of it in place yet).

Then, from there, it went to our couch.  We'd been using a hand-me-down from my parents, with a slipcover on it that was more annoying than anything. 

Old (you can see the pattern here):

New (again, from the Craigslist posting):

And last but certainly not least, we're now in talks with a friend to buy a queen-sized bed from him.  It used to be his mother's but for whatever reason, she doesn't need it anymore.  Our bed is perfectly fine, except for the fact that it's a full, and we just need more room.  It was my bed from way back when I moved into my first apartment (2002).  Worked just fine for one person, but we've been squeezing into it together for far too long (especially when I was pregnant with Ben!).

And of course we needed new bedding.  Here's what I picked out:

Our walls in the new bedroom are brown, but our furniture is black.  Hopefully this strikes a good balance.  The new bed has a wooden headboard.

It's so nice to finally feel like a grown-up, and really be proud of my home!  Now if we could just get our decorations hung on the walls...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two years ago...

Two years ago today, our lives changed forever, with one tiny digital word...

It was a Monday morning, and though I wanted to hold out until Tuesday to take that test, I'm glad I didn't.  It sure did start our week off with a bang!

And in a crazy parallel with this week...two years ago this weekend, we told my parents we were having a baby.  When did we tell them?  Right after we went and saw "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince".  This Saturday, we're going to see the final installment of the series (Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, for you non-Potternerds).

A lot has changed in the last two years.  We're going, regrettably, without Wayne, as we did for the last film as well.  And we'll be leaving our little toddler with a babysitter.

Crazy to think that in two years, he's gone from this:

Baby, fetus at 4 weeks - BabyCenter
Barely even an embryo yet

To this!

A walking, talking, pointing at everything toddler!

I'm glad we have Ben now, but boy do I miss Wayne at times like these.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We're moving!

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts recently.  It's been a crazy busy month for us.  We started off with a visit from our niece Macy...then Ben got sick right after that...and then we decided to move at the end of the month!

Around the middle of the month, I was randomly searching our building's "available floorplans" page, as I do every so often, and found that they had a very intriguing two-bedroom flat coming available in July.

We've been in our current loft for 2 1/2 years now - and I've had issues with it almost from the beginning.  The floors (original 1929 hardwoods) creak, badly.  The upstairs (an open loft with only a half-wall) is hard to keep cool (unless you run the 2nd a/c unit, which then freezes you out).  It's also insanely noisy - and therein lies the biggest issue.

Branden's been working Friday and Saturday nights until 2 AM since May.  He usually doesn't make it to bed until almost 3 AM on those nights.  And once Ben wakes up and starts making noise - well, it's impossible to sleep through that when the bedroom is open to downstairs! 

So when I found this floorplan, I got excited and showed it to Branden - and then he got excited.  Fast forward about a week, and we had a deal (to keep us at our current lease rate) and a move-in date (July 2-4).  But - ack - that's THIS weekend! 

Fortunately, we're just about ready, and this is a fairly easy move anyway.  We'll just be going down four floors, so many of our things will just be loaded into the wagon and pulled down the hall, onto the elevator, and down the next hall into our new place.  We have help on Sunday, and of course the biggest help of all is my mom - who is keeping Ben for us Saturday and Sunday!

It will be my first overnight away from Ben, but I'll be so busy I won't have (too much) time to miss him.  We've got a lot of moving (and painting - Ben's room) to do in two days!

And just because I'm not much for a post without pictures - here's our old unit:

And our new one can be found here.  (I only have it in PDF format, so I couldn't upload it).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cosmic Cousin Connection

Tonight was progressing like any other Friday night.  Ben went down for a quick post-daycare nap...I fixed dinner...we all sat down and ate together as a family before Branden headed off to his second job.

Ben was still in his highchair, finishing up dinner, when Branden was leaving.  He gathered his things down at the other end of the house (well out of eyesight of either of us) and then told us goodbye from there.  Only this time, Ben said "BYE!" right back to him!!  A brand new word!

So of course, Branden had to peak around the corner to wave at him, and Ben said it again!

But it only gets cooler from there.  I sent a bragging text to my mom, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law.  And my sister-in-law sends one back...saying that her daughter, Ben's cousin Macy, just said bye for the first time right after Ben did!!

Now if that isn't a cosmic cousin connection, I don't know what is.

And since a post doesn't feel complete without a picture, here's one of Ben from his friend Emma's birthday party last weekend.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

14 months, 1 week, and 4 days

That's how long I breastfed my son.

I can say that now, because it's over.  We're finished.  We had our last nursing session last night before bed.

We were down to just that one time a day anyway - had been since his 1st birthday.  I noticed over the past week or so that he wasn't falling asleep at the breast like he used to.  And our sessions were increasingly consisting of kicking, slapping, poking, and pinching - nothing vicious or mean-spirited, just the result of trying to be in close contact with an energetic toddler.

I feel so very fortunate that I was able to provide my son with breastmilk for so long.  What I didn't know before I started was how attached I would become to breastfeeding!  As silly as it sounds, I feel like I'm losing a part of my identity. 

Until our next baby, of course...

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Ben videos!!

Since that last post was so down-in-the-dumps, I figured I'd better hurry up and post some cute videos of my son to make up for it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rough times

We've been going through some rough times lately...especially for my husband.  I don't want this to be too much of a downer post, but I do want to be honest about how things are going.

Branden finished his master's degree nine months ago.  He's been applying for planning jobs ever since - and has yet to get one single interview.  It's such a demeaning process, even in the best of times.  But the job market out there just plain sucks right now.  He's competing against so many people for so few jobs.  One of the jobs he applied for was even taken off the market due to a lack of funding (a local city government).  I try to keep his spirits up, but I completely understand why he's so frustrated.

As if that wasn't enough to deal with, last Saturday, Branden had to make the agonizing decision to put his dog Pepper to sleep.

We miss you, buddy.

Pepper had a large cyst on his side, that we originally believed was just a benign subaceous cyst.  Unfortunately, after it ruptured, Pepper's condition quickly went downhill - and when the vet examined him, he determined it was probably cancerous.

So you'd think it'd be about time for Branden to catch a break, right?  How about being offered a promotion at his job?  Sounds pretty sweet, and definitely something he deserves.  How about being offered a promotion, and then having it taken away?  "Oh, we decided to keep the person we have in that position - just forget we ever mentioned it!"  Yeah...I'm still fuming from that, and I can't believe his employer treated him that way.

Branden could definitely use some good thoughts right now.  He works so very hard - especially now that he has the 2nd job on the weekends (Fri & Sat nights, 7pm - 2am).  I've tried to pick up the slack at home and do as much as I can to make things easier on him.  But it's still rough, and things would be so much easier if he could find a planning job!  If you know of anyone who needs a city planner/transportation planner/neighborhood planner, etc. - let me know!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), and all of my (IRL and online) friends who have dealt with infertility (IF), I'm blogging to bust an infertility myth.

Myth:  Infertility isn't all that common - I don't know anyone who's dealt with it.

Not true!  The problem is, infertility is still taboo.  It's not talked about - it's whispered about in back rooms.  Men and women who struggle to conceive on their own often hide their feelings - crying in private, month after month, as the negative pregnancy tests pile up.  They feel shame when they have to make an appointment to seek medical help.  "Why couldn't we just get pregnant on our own?"  "It's so easy for so many people!"  "Teenagers can get pregnant from one drunk night!  What's wrong with me?!"  "I'm broken!  I'm not a woman because I can't get pregnant."

If we just spoke up a little more, perhaps infertility wouldn't feel so alienating.  I hope I don't sound insincere, because I haven't dealt with IF first hand.  But I know so many women who have, and it pains me that they have to suffer in relative silence.  It frustrates me that so many insurance companies still don't cover IF treatment.  It saddens me that many of my friends have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars just for the chance to get pregnant.

If you'd like to know more about infertility, please visit the Resolve website.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And he's off!

Look at him go!

Another...this time holding his new ball:

And finally, showing off his new words - "kitty" and "uh oh!":

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My First 5K!

A couple of days ago, I found out about the Free to Breathe 5K, which is taking place in a suburb of Dallas on May 21. I found out about it through this news story, forwarded to me by my mom.

As most of you know, my father died of lung cancer in the fall of 2009. The chance to raise funds for the National Lung Cancer Partnership was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. Last fall, I found out about another charity event put on by the American Lung Association, and even signed up, but it just wasn't the right event for me(a 52-story stairclimb? Yikes!) This one is much more palatable.

So, I signed up yesterday - and in a little over 24 hours, I've already raised nearly 50% of my $500 goal! I have no illusions that this is all because of me. I know people are giving money to the cause because they loved and cared about Wayne, or because they were by my mom's side through the whole ordeal.

This will be my first 5K. I'll probably walk most of it, but I may get up a jog or two in there. I'm hoping to push Ben in a (borrowed) jogging stroller, so he can be along for the journey (otherwise, I'm going it alone - which I'm fine with). My mom will be there to cheer me on from the sidelines. And Branden would be walking with me, except that he just started a second job, and will be working until 2 AM the night before. I'm giving him a pass on this one.

If you'd like to donate, you can visit my fundraising page here. Or just go and take a look at the little tribute I wrote about Wayne. He was such a special guy, and I am so, so fortunate I got to know and love and be loved by him for 20 years of my life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We have a walker!

Just a few days shy of 13 months old, Benjamin decided it was time to start walking. He's still a little unsteady, and only goes short distances for now, but it's a start! I got it on video a couple of times today:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

At this rate, he'll be starting high school soon!

I knew things would take off once Ben turned 1, but I had no idea it would go this quickly! What's he up to? Well..

For starters, transitioning to the toddler room at daycare. It's going really well. He already picked up the sign for "more", which he did at dinner a few days ago. He spends about half a day in the toddler room each day - though today he stayed even longer. He even napped over there today! This is a huge deal - because they nap on cots, and it was the part of the transition I was most worried about. Yeah, my kid's a champ, and I totally shouldn't have worried. I even got to see him napping on the cot when I stopped by today to drop off some diaper cream. So sweet!

What else? He had a pediatrician appointment on Monday - just a make-up for his one-year appointment. He was a little under the weather the first time, so Dr. A opted to delay his shots for a couple of weeks. Since that appointment, two weeks ago, he's gained over a pound! My not-so-little munchkin now weighs 26 lbs 10 oz, and the pediatrician jokingly asked "What are you feeding him, some kind of Miracle Grow?!" I never would've imagined he'd end up in the 90th percentile - this time last year, I was worried because he was such a skinny little thing, in the 10th percentile!

Let's see...what else...he's finally getting the motivation to take some steps on his own (just a few days shy of 13 months). After waiting on it for so long, and kind of expecting it somewhere around 12 months, I finally gave up and just relaxed about it. I found out from our moms that I didn't walk until 14 months, and my husband didn't walk until 13 months - so Ben's right on track! I really think the motivation is coming from being around the other toddlers and wanting to keep up. Hey, whatever works, right?

Here's a video of him taking a little walk (with the help of his Buzz Lightyear toy) in the lobby of our building last week:

On a totally unrelated note, Ben has a pretty nasty diaper rash right now. We were good about giving him naked time tonight to let it air out. My husband put down a blanket and hung out with him until dinner was ready. After dinner, I took him into his room to have a little more naked play time. Of course, that's when he decides to poo. Gah! Thankfully, my wonderful husband cleaned it up while I kept the kid from getting it all over the place. Ahh, the glamorous life of parents!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Computer problems suck!

This post may end up being one giant whine-fest - so don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday morning, I booted up our laptop just like I always do. Everything seemed okay until it got to the home screen. Instead of our background, it was a plain black screen. The only icon showing was for Recycle Bin. And a screen popped up, claiming to be "WindowsRepair", and saying it was doing a scan of our computer and finding major errors. There was a button to click to "fix the errors", so I did...and after attempting to fix the errors, a message popped up saying that in order to fix some of them, we'd have to purchase the advanced WindowsRepair program.

Curious, but by this time extremely wary, I clicked on the button, which took me to a very plain-looking order form. This was sending up all kinds of red flags for me. I picked up my phone and googled "WindowsRepair" and didn't find anything on it. Meanwhile, I tried to look around at the computer, but when I clicked on my documents, it said there was nothing there...empty...same for my photos.

By this time, my stomach is sinking. I'm wondering what in the world could be wrong with our computer, and wanting to stop everything and take it to someone to fix! I managed to calm down, and once I thought rationally, I figured it must be some sort of virus, masquerading as our computer's home screen. This gave me hope that our files were still in there...somewhere.

We decided to hold off on paying lots of money to take it to someone. When I got to work, I sought out one of our IT guys and described the problem to him. He said it sounded like malware, and that if I brought it in Friday morning, he'd be happy to see what he could do to fix it. He was hopeful that it wouldn't be too difficult of a fix.

Fortunately, he was right on the diagnosis - it was malware. He ran a program to remove the malware. Unfortunately, after it was removed, the files were still missing. He was able to do a restore from a restore point on 3/17 - thankfully, recent enough that we didn't lose any files. (All the pictures and videos of my son's first year, for starters - only partially backed up).

Lesson learned, I took the repaired computer home, and before the end of the day on Friday, I had in my hands a 1TB (yep, that's terabyte) external hard drive (for only $50!) to back up our files.

Unfortunately, it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing since then. All our files are there, but they're acting a little funny. Our internet favorites were "missing" even though they were still in the favorites file. I tried to get Explorer to recognize them, but it won't work - so I'm going through them one-by-one, visiting the page, and re-bookmarking them.

Then I get to FlipShare. I've already had to uninstall and reinstall it once because it was acting up. I did, and didn't seem to have any problems with it afterwards, so I figured when it was again acting up, I could do the same thing. Wrong! This time, after the reinstall, it couldn't seem to "find" the video files. And the ones it could find, it was finding incorrectly. So I'd click on a video from August, and it would start playing something recent. Very odd. I messed with that for about an hour (using valuable toddler nap time!) this afternoon. The upshot is, I still can't get it to recognize most of the videos - but at least the ones it does recognize are correct now. I figure it's not the end of the world - all my videos don't have to be in FlipShare. At least I know they're still there (I can view them in QuickTime just fine).

Moral of the story? Make sure your anti-virus software is always up-to-date. Ours should've been, but we had an issue recently with Norton charging our CC for an auto-renewal and then the software not recognizing our renewal code. It was one of those things we kept meaning to figure out, but we put it off...when we definitely should have.

We also should have been better about having a good back-up system. I wouldn't have freaked out nearly as much if I'd known our pictures and videos were safe (they are now).

Lessons learned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Hitting the one-year mark is a time full of transitions, for both parents and child. Going from a baby to a toddler...taking those first steps (still waiting)...often it's time for full or partial weaning...the list goes on and on.

This morning, I witnessed another transition for Benjamin, and it had me more emotional than I thought it would. I always knew that he'd move from the infant room to the toddler room at daycare some time around his first birthday. There are other characteristics that they look for - mobility, eating table foods, etc. But it usually happens somewhere around (but not before) 12 months.

The toddler room is right next door to his infant classroom. A windowed door separates the two, and he's spent plenty of time over the last few months peering in at the "big kids", watching them play. Many of his former classmates are over there now. Yesterday, they told me that he finally went over to visit for the first time (and it went very well!).

But this morning, when I dropped him off, they sent him over before I was even finished unpacking his things. So I stood and watched him for a while. I watched as the tallest girl in the class crossed paths with him...and tried to put a little "bow" on his head. I watched as he made his way over to a toy that must be so exciting and new to him. And as I stood there and watched, a lump formed in my throat. Surrounded by all those other toddlers, he was no longer the big fish in the baby pond. He was, really and truly, a toddler.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it made me so emotional. My little man is growing up.

No word yet on when he'll transition full time, but my guess is it will be soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

In my other life...

Do you ever daydream about what you would do with your life, if you had it to do all over again?

I have decided that, in my other life, I would be three things:

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A Lactiation Consultant

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And a Childbirth Educator

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So, why don't I just go for it?

Well, money, for one thing - being certified for any one of these things, much less all three of them, costs some money. Then there's the time involved - all three include a pretty significant time commitment for training, apprenticeship, clinical hours, etc. Then there's the issue of starting up a business and/or building a clientele for yourself.

Honestly, I never had any idea this was something I was so interested in until I went through the process of having a child myself. All of the sudden, a whole new world was opened up to me that I never really knew existed before. I've become a birth junkie - following all sorts of issues related to childbirth, breastfeeding, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out until I was 30 years old and a working mother to a very active little boy! And right now, I just don't have the time or the money to start a whole new career.

So for now, I'll just stick to daydreaming about what could've been...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Quesadillas...

Or, how I found a dose of creativity in the kitchen.

I am not a creative person. I am very left-brained. Even my musical studies were approached in a very left-brained manner. I was never any good at improvisation - I needed structure (notes on a page).

My approach to cooking is very similar. I need a recipe. Directions to follow. Rules. Given a recipe, I can usually follow it and obtain enough success to consider the result edible, enjoyable even. But I have never been one to see ingredients in my kitchen and conceptualize a dish, or throw spices on something and have it turn out wonderfully.

I've always worried about this inadequacy in the kitchen - mostly for how it would affect my future children. My mom has always been what I'm not in the kitchen - she's a creative, thoughtful, inspired cook. We never hurted for yummy family dinners when I was growing up. But somehow that gene skipped a generation, which always made me wonder what kind of a gastronomic experience my children would have and remember. I know not every mom has to be a whiz in the kitchen - but mine was, and I felt like I owed it to my offspring to at least try.

Well, last night proved that I have at least a thread of that, somewhere in my DNA. I can't begin to tell you how proud I was of what I did in the kitchen last night. And here's the thing - it wasn't very difficult. It's going to sound silly when I admit how easy it was - but the fact that I did this, that I came up with it on my own, without a recipe, and executed it (fairly well, I might add) without consulting a single resource except my own brain - well, that was an accomplishment for me.

So what did I do that has me spewing congratulatory back-pats? I made quesadillas. Not only that, but I made them to use up something we already had in the house - cubed pepperjack cheese leftover from Ben's birthday party.

In addition to the cheese, I boiled and cubed a couple of chicken breasts and sauteed a bell pepper and an onion. (I sauteed!) Then I spread it all out between two burrito-sized flour tortillas (I'm nothing if not generous with my portion sizes). We had enough ingredients to make three large quesadillas. I cooked them one at a time in a pre-heated skillet with a dash of olive oil. Other than the first one, which I burned a little (turns out the heat should be set fairly low, to allow the ingredients to cook without crisping the tortilla), it was a very successful dinner! My husband and son both agreed.

So even though this seems like a fairly simple meal (served only with sour cream and salsa to garnish), it was a big accomplishment for me. Maybe I'm not so bad off in the kitchen. Too bad we can't live on quesadillas every day...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Benjamin's First Year

I'm rather proud of this slideshow I put together for Benjamin's birthday party. Baby's first pictures (and video!).

Benjamin's First Year from Courtney Helms on Vimeo.

A Letter to my Son


You are 1. A whole year old. You have now been in my life in some manner for over 20 months.

The day we found out we were going to be parents was magical. Then we found out you were a boy...even more magical. But nothing will ever top the day you came into our lives - Wednesday, March 10, 2010.

Since that day, your Daddy and I have made it our goal to be the best parents to you that we know how to be. We may not always live up to that ideal, but we definitely try. Every day is a new adventure with you - and just when we think we've got the routine down, you throw something new at us. You like to keep us on our toes. :)

So, you're a year old now. What are you like? Well...
  • You've been eating table foods for half your life...and you eat like a professional. You're not overly messy - for the most part, it's all about getting the food from the tray to your mouth. The dogs sure wish you were messier.

  • You started off a bit on the small side, but you've certainly caught up. At 6 months, you weighed 16 lbs. By 9 months, you were up to nearly 20 1/2 lbs. We'll find out on Monday what your stats are now, but I'm guessing you're 24-25 lbs by now. My growing boy!

  • We're still nursing first thing in the morning and right before bed...but I think it's mostly for comfort now. You drink whole milk at daycare and water with meals and snacks.

  • You're such a happy boy! Your smile lights up the room, and you aren't stingy with it either. And laughs come much more frequently now than they used to. Love them!

  • You were quick to crawl, pull up and cruise the furniture, but you don't seem to want to move on to walking just yet. You have no problem walking around holding on to our hands, or even just a finger, and you can stand without support...but when it's time to move, it's back on your bottom and crawling away.

  • You love to babble - Mama and Dada and gaaa and baa - that's the closest you've come to words yet.

  • Only a couple of times have you waved goodbye...we're still working on that one.

Overall, though you have your moments (mostly when we have to tell you No), you are a sweet, fun, cuddly, active, inquisitive, interesting little boy. Watching you grow up is the most fun thing I've ever gotten to do - and I am excited for the new adventures the next year will bring.

All my love,


My, how you've grown...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Breastfeeding Journey

With the exception of a handful of those I'm closest to (and a message board full of "internet strangers"), I don't talk much about breastfeeding. But as Ben and I are approaching the end of this journey, I feel compelled to share our story.

Part of the reason I don't talk about it much is that really, there's not much to talk about. Breastfeeding has been fairly intuitive for both of us, even from the start. Despite the fact that Benjamin was born in distress, and I didn't see him for the first 45 minutes of his life, as soon as he was handed to me, we had our requisite skin-to-skin contact, and he latched on like a champ from the get-go. We never faced any of the issues I hear so much about - poor latch, inadequate supply, cracked nipples, etc. My milk came in early in the morning of the Friday after he was born - he was only about 36 hours old at that point.

Even when things got hairy with Ben's severe jaundice, our pediatrician never once suggested that I supplement. Instead, she just urged me to feed him every two hours, like clockwork - which I took seriously. The night he was on the bili lights (here at home - another point for the pediatrician for not sending us to the hospital), while he laid in the tanning bed, I sat a few feet away in the recliner. I dutifully woke him every two hours. Our routine went something like this - wake, pick up, make sure the "bili blanket" paddle was positioned under him, feed for 30 minutes, reposition under the lights, sleep for 90 minutes, repeat. All night long. It was, to date, the hardest night I've faced as a parent - especially when my husband woke up refreshed from a night alone in our bed. I might've thrown some choice words his way that morning in my sleep-deprived, hormonal state. After all, it had only been five days since I gave birth at that point!

But we weathered that storm just fine - Ben got rid of the jaundice, and started putting on more weight (he didn't gain much at all that first week due to being too sleepy to eat - a side effect of the jaundice). I continued to feed on demand.

Things went swimmingly throughout maternity leave. We quickly settled into a routine, and I began to actually enjoy breastfeeding my son. It was (and still is) our special time together - something no one else gets to share with him. I started pumping sporadically when Ben was a few weeks old, though in hindsight, I wish I'd been more dedicated. I never did build up a very large freezer stash, and there were times when my lack of stash really caused me to worry. I can say now that we made it through, but it was by the skin of my teeth at times that we got through without having to resort to supplementing with formula.

I went back to work when Ben was almost 3 months old. I lugged my trusty pump to work every day - and still do. Day in and day out, I sequestered myself three times a day to pump. For a while, I was pumping in a spare office - thankfully, one with a lock on the door. When that office was taken over, I was moved to a different space for a while. Finally, I was sent to the IT storage closet - a very private space, again with a lock on the door, on a separate floor from our main office space. This was totally fine by me - the more private, the better!

Pumping was never my favorite pastime, but I did it (and do it) because I am determined. Because it was my goal from the start to breastfeed to at least a year, and avoid giving my baby formula if at all possible. I have absolutely nothing against those who choose to feed their babies formula (I was a formula baby), this was just my personal preference.

The one big obstacle I had was a recurrent plugged duct on my left side. In case you've never experienced this, let me just tell you - it hurts. Bad. Really bad. Oh, the pain. I think I had 3 or 4 recurrences of this. It seemed like, for a while there, I'd just about get it under control, and then it would plug back up again. Finally, I managed to get rid of it once and for all - though I lived in fear of it returning for many weeks afterwards. I panicked at every twinge, fearing the worst. Thankfully, I've managed to stay plug-free for several months now.

So for six months - from June until December - I fed Ben on demand any time I was with him and pumped three times a day at work. In early December, I had surgery, and I used my recovery time to drop down to two pumping sessions during the day (plus my first-thing-in-the-morning pumping session over breakfast). I kept that schedule up from mid-December

Tuesday was, inadvertently, the start of the next phase of the weaning process. We've already given Ben whole (cow's) milk twice - straight up, in his sippy cup. He drank it right down both times. I'd been planning to continue to pump twice a day while at work until the last week of his first year (next week!), when I would go down to once a day. Then I would cut out pumping altogether starting Monday the 14th. However, Tuesday morning, for some unknown reason, I simply forgot to pump. I have no idea why or how it happened, but it did. So I made the decision then and there to go ahead and cut it down to once a day. Wednesday, I sent a 50/50 mix of breastmilk and whole milk in his sippy cups - which meant he's now off bottles!

And today - just a couple hours ago - I pumped for the very last time (for this baby, anyway). I have enough freezer stash to continue to send the 50/50 mixture through next week. After it's gone, the only time Ben will get breastmilk is first thing in the morning or right before bed - I've decided to continue nursing him at those times, at least for the immediate future. I haven't made any decisions yet on how long that will continue. I'm going to play it by ear.

So there you go...our breastfeeding journey. If you made it this far, you deserve a prize!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tonight, I held him and I cried

Tonight, I held him tight. His fresh, clean hair, still wet from bathtime, pressed into my cheek. His breathing was the slow, rhythmic breath of a baby just fallen asleep. I held him in my lap, his legs so long, spilling off the side of the pillow. I remember when he was half this size, so tiny and compact. As he drifted off to sleep, I held him and a tear escaped. Where has my little baby gone? Who is this big (wonderful, sweet, loving, active, inquisitive, smiley) kid who has taken his place?

Tonight, I held him and I cried. Tears of sadness for my baby, who didn't keep. Tears of joy, for seeing the boy he will become. Tears of love, for being allowed to experience something so great.

Tonight, I held him and I cried.